Traumatic brain injury, otherwsie known as TBI, occurs when there is a disruption in the normal function and flow of blood in the brain. It may be caused by a heavy blow, a sudden bump to the head, or when an object pierces through the skull, endangering the delicate brain tissues. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild or severe, depending on the extent of damage to the brain.
Approximately 80,000 to 90,000 people experience the onset of long-term or lifelong disabilities associated with TBI annually. 1 in 60 people in the U.S also live with a traumatic brain injury-related disability. Severe cases may result in long periods of coma or even death.
It can be overwhelming and challenging to understand whether you are dealing with brain injury’s short or long-term effects. Many patients are hospitalized due to severe falls, vehicle accidents, physical assaults, and injuries from sports activities.
“Traumatic brain injury patients require a lot of care and attention,” said Attorney Charles W. Whetstone, Jr. of Whetstone Perkins & Fulda, LLC. “TBI patients often need signifacnt medical attention that can be costly. In many cases, pursuing a TBI claim can be the difference of whether a patient can afford the treatment they need.”
Long Term Effects of TBI
The long-term effects of TBI depend on specific locations in the brain where a trauma may have taken place. Trauma on the left side of the brain is known to cause problems with speech, logical thinking, and understanding people.
On the other hand, right side injury in the brain can cause problems processing visual information, neglect, or the ability to perform regular daily activities. For instance, a patient may have issues telling if a comb is a comb and how to use it properly.
Long-term effects of brain trauma also depend on its severity. Some of these effects include:
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Balance issues
- Visual changes
- Poor language skills
People experiencing severe TBI can experience physical impairments, cognitive impairments, sleep deprivation, problem-solving challenges, and depression.
Short Term Effects of TBI
People who suffer from short-term or mild traumatic brain injuries, like concussions, may experience dizziness, migraines, fatigue, vision changes, and concentration difficulties. The general recovery period for a mild TBI is usually 30 to 90 days, but recovering from a concussion can take only a few days or weeks for some people.
Mild or short-term effects include:
- Noise sensitivity
- Mental fatigue
- Light sensitivity
There are several treatments that can help a patient recover from TBI. They each work to reduce or eliminate specific physical, emotional, and cognitive issues associated with TBI. The specifics of these treatments differ, but they all depend on the severity of the injury to the brain.
Treatment For Mild TBI
Mild TBI or concussion may not require any major treatment other than taking time to rest. But it still does not rule out that every patient needs to follow a doctor’s healthcare instructions for a slow return to normal activities.
If a patient has a quick recovery and returns to normal activities but starts experiencing TBI symptoms again, the healing process may take longer. A patient under a TBI treatment for mild symptoms should not indulge in certain activities like working on a computer or activities that require intense concentration.
Additionally, alcohol and some drugs can increase the chances of more injuries and less of a chance for recovery. They could lead to long-term problems, including permanent brain damage and sudden death.
Emergency Treatment For TBI
Among children between the ages of 10 and 14, TBI accounts for 2,529 deaths, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 837,000 emergency room treatments. The goal with emergency care is to stabilize the patient, which includes ensuring the brain gets the right amount of oxygen and controlling blood pressure.
One may require surgery as emergency care to reduce any damage to the brain. This surgery may include:
- Relieving pressure in the brain: An increase in pressure from swelling and other things in the skull can easily damage the brain. During emergency care, a TBI patient is carefully monitored. It may require a doctor to make a hole in the skull to relieve pressure and allow the free flow of fluid to the brain.
- Removing Blood Clots: When a patient bleeds in the brain or skull, it can lead to large areas of clotted blood that can put pressure on the brain and damage delicate brain tissues.
Medications For TBI
One of the ways to help manage TBI symptoms and other conditions associated with it is through medications. Some medications are very efficient soon after a TBI, while others are best used a few days after the initial injury. These medications include:
- Anticoagulants help prevent blood clots and improve the flow of blood
- Diuretics help to increase pressure inside the brain
- Muscle relaxants to reduce muscle contractions and relax muscle nerves
- Antidepressants to treat and stabilize mood swings
- Stimulants to increase the alertness of the body.
Rehabilitation For TBI
About 288,000 hospitalizations for TBI are recorded every year, more than 20 times the number of hospitalizations for spinal cord injury. After hospitalization, there are several benefits for head-injured patients who go for rehabilitation. The prime candidates for rehabilitation are patients who experience fewer injuries and those that show a certain level of improvement.
For a patient with severe injuries or slow recovery, constant monitoring is required to reduce the number of problems associated with infection, skin integrity, and other physiological functions. Others with moderate or mild injuries are the right candidates for outpatient therapy.
One of the primary goals of head-injury rehabilitation centers is to help patients reach the maximum level of function their impairments allow them to. It also aims to work with the patient’s families to educate them about their expectations and how to manage them.
All over the world, there are rehabilitation centers that run traumatic brain injury support groups for survivors and families worldwide. They analyze various brain injuries and discuss how to manage TBI to build a healthy sense of living.
While many traumatic brain injury patients make a full recovery, the recovery time may be extended for some. Family members and caregivers must provide patients with the support they need and when they need it for the best chance of a full recovery.